City of Joy is proud to release a short report on the graduation of 90 women of the 10th class. From June to December 2016, City of Joy sheltered 90 women who came from 46 villages in South and North-Kivu provinces. These women met the admission criteria to start their journey to healing. Some of their stories were heartbreaking and constituted the focus of the activities that were carried out in six months at City of Joy.
On Tuesday 13th, 2016 City of Joy graduated 90 women who were overjoyed to celebrate themselves and their victory over trauma. They were so happy to have completed the healing and leadership program which helped them know, accept, and transcend themselves, and learn to feel as full-fledged members of their communities from which they were isolated, made to feel self-pity, and undervalued. The graduation day was a day of rebirth and commitment for 90 women who joined the 759 other women making change in their communities since we started the program. These women have expressed their feeling of gratitude to Mama Eve Ensler for her commitment and everything she does for women in the world in general and in the DRC in particular.
10th session women were full of initiatives. We believe that their entrance in their communities will bring new energy and revolutionize degrading ways and customs which perpetuate gender violence.
Since session 9, City of Joy is applying relaxation therapy with the women and its results are promising. This session, we have also focused therapeutic activities on sports therapy so as to allow women to be healed by sports. With the experience we have had, we are planning to have more time for sports in the next sessions, because not only women are happy with the practice but also and more so, they feel liberated and transformed with the benefits of sport as each woman is decided to give the most of herself during this activity.
During this session we noticed that most forms of violence that City of Joy women survived were grounded in ways and customs and in their lack of knowledge of their rights. Some of new strategies we used with this class valued nutrition, the relationship between human and nature (environment) and women’s rights. In the course of nutrition, we based all the lessons on what women need to improve their nutritious habits and understand that nutritious diet offers numerous health benefits that keep human being mentally and physically well. We taught them that proper nutrition doesn’t mean starving yourself, but instead means eating a diet balanced in lean proteins, carbs and fats. We learned from the experience of people who die because they do not feed healthily. As such, we explained women how , with the means they can have, they can improve their lives with a diet low in fats, cholesterol and sodium which can lower their risk of heart disease which they can easily find in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Change of behaviors and breaking of taboos which prevented them from eating some foods such as chicken, eggs, etc. were highlighted.
With the aim of helping women understand the environment in which they live and their rights, we insisted that women’s participation in protecting the nature/environment is very important. During the sensitization and the pedagogical visit in the V-World farm we campaigned that involving women in protecting the environment would help societies develop the sense of responsibility needed to maintain a good balance between humans and the earth’s resources. City of Joy graduates joined their communities with decisions to tell other women that they must play roles in environmental protection.
The time these women spent at City of Joy helped them understand better and deplore the life they were living in their communities and equipped them with knowledge to make a revolution and change beliefs. For example, almost all 90 women came with the belief that women are inferior to men and that they have no economic rights. They arrived with the belief that women have no role in environmental conservation and promotion. But after, the training in gender rights, environment protection, ecology, etc. has spread awareness about women’s rights and duties. Women took cognizance of their surrounding and consciously raised voices against environment degradation. They joined their communities with the decision that they will take action to demand “better protection of natural resources and environment conservation”. One woman declared that she wishes to work in the V-World Farm so that she can share her abilities and act in solidarity with the nature.
Done in Bukavu, December 20th, 2016